With its algorithmic ability to interpret and manipulate human language, Natural Language Processing (NLP) emerged in the market, a decade ago. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, NLP is enabling many voice-to-text technologies to simplify several processes in the healthcare space. NLP can help in improving clinical documentation, optimize costs, and deliver a better quality of care.
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging our society and economy in an unprecedented way. During this time, NLP is helping government authorities to leverage significant innovation like chat programs to help detect the outbreak in initial stages. Moreover, it is driving efforts to handle large influx of queries and phone calls across the struggling healthcare services and hospitals.
There are allegedly early predictions of the virus in Wuhan, China tracked through online sources by companies that deploy NLP techniques.
HealthMap system at the Boston Children’s Hospital, claimed that the first public alert outside of China came from their automated system after scanning online news and social media reports. It sent out an alert about unidentified pneumonia cases in Wuhan on December 30, 11.12 pm Boston time.
Similar to HealthMap, BlueDot, a Canadian company, also sent out bulletins and alerts to its customers about unidentified pneumonia cases in Hubei on December 31. It also highlighted that a Mandarin language article said few people were sick with pneumonia in Wuhan. The two most used keywords were, “unknown case” and “pneumonia”.
An Italian AI tech company is using NLP to extract emotions and sentiments (in English) from 63,000 social media posts on feelings during COVID-19 worldwide on Twitter for every 24-hour period, according to an article in Forbes.
Several other examples shows NLP when combined with AI and ML, can increase accuracy and improve the algorithm over time to run through vast data sources. NLP-based algorithms are used to process data from online news and air traffic information sourced in several languages, which matches the data for previously ingested keywords and phrases. NLP-powered AI is developing significant abilities in incident detection, which can have more applications going forward in the health sector.
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